Goodwill® Industries of the Southern Piedmont President & CEO to Retire After 40 Years


Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Goodwill® Industries of the Southern Piedmont President & CEO to Retire After 40 Years

189,602 local job seekers helped by Goodwill during Michael Elder’s tenure

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (January 10, 2017) – The Board of Directors of Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont announced today that Michael Elder, president & CEO, will retire effective June 30, 2017, after more than 40 years of service at the helm of the nonprofit. The executive board will conduct a search for the next president & CEO with the assistance of local search firm Anderson & Associates and Goodwill Industries International, Inc.

Michael Elder

Elder began his career at Goodwill Industries of Charlotte in December 1976 – 11 years after its inception in 1965 – and soon after changed its name to Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont to reflect the breath of its mission and scope of services to the region spanning North and South Carolina. Since that time, Elder has grown the organization from 61 employees to nearly 800, and expanded operations from two counties in North Carolina (Mecklenburg and Gaston) to operations in eight counties of North and South Carolina (Mecklenburg, Gaston, Lincoln, Cleveland, Cabarrus, Union, York, Lancaster). Goodwill expanded its retail footprint from three stores in 1976 to 24 stores in 2017, and grew from a $532,000 annual operating budget to more than $60 million annually.

In addition to its retail stores, the organization also launched five new business enterprises during Elder’s tenure to support the mission by generating revenue, creating jobs and offering job training. These businesses include GoodWork Staffing, one of the largest temporary staffing agencies in the region; Goodwill Construction Services, a full-service construction division;, an e-commerce business; Electronics Recycling and E-Books, Goodwill’s online book retailer. Last year in 2016, the organization paid out more than $38 million in wages and benefits to team members and clients throughout the region.

Under Elder’s leadership, Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont has become one of the region’s most innovative social enterprises and the largest private provider of training services for individuals with barriers to employment. In 1976, Goodwill operated a small sheltered workshop serving 123 individuals at its former location on Freedom Drive in Charlotte. Today the organization now offers an integrated and comprehensive system of workforce services to more than 10,000 individuals annually across the Southern Piedmont region.

Goodwill’s mission is to help individuals overcome barriers to employment – such as lack of skills, experience or education, and those with criminal backgrounds – to achieve family sustaining employment. Currently, 81 percent of individuals seeking services at Goodwill had an average household income of less than $20,000, and 71 percent of those had an average household income of less than $10,000. Over the course of Elder’s 40-year tenure, Goodwill has committed its mission to serving those with significant barriers to employment, and assisted 189,602 local job seekers with preparing for and finding meaningful, stable employment in order to support themselves and their families.

“Michael has been a remarkable servant leader in the region over the past 40 years, and we’re forever grateful for his service to our community,” said Sara Garces Roselli, chair of the Board of Directors of Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont. “By dedicating his career to the mission of Goodwill, the organization has experienced tremendous growth, and in turn given hope to thousands of individuals living in poverty, who are working to achieve greater personal and economic independence.”

Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont helps individuals build careers in a variety of in-demand industries including customer service, administrative and business services, construction, and hospitality and tourism. Goodwill also offers free computer literacy courses such as Internet 101 and a Microsoft Office Specialist certification, as well as résumé workshops, mock interviews, and other vocational and career development services. These services are provided free of charge to job seekers thanks to donations and purchases made by the community at Goodwill retail stores.

Perhaps the most significant achievement of Elder’s career with Goodwill came during the summer of 2016, when the organization opened the new Goodwill Opportunity Campus in west Charlotte. The campus features the 160,000 square foot Leon Levine Opportunity Center housing Goodwill’s resources, plus on-site nonprofit community partners – including Charlotte Metro Credit Union, Charlotte Community Health Clinic – West, Common Wealth Charlotte and The Center for Community Transitions – to provide wraparound services for clients under one roof. Together, Goodwill and its partner agencies address client barriers in healthcare, banking, financial literacy and transitional support services for individuals with criminal backgrounds, and work collaboratively to help clients achieve overall stability and self-sufficiency. It was through Elder’s stewardship, leadership and bold vision that this $22 million investment became a reality and will change the trajectory of poverty in the region.

“When I started at Goodwill in December of 1976, I could not begin to imagine the incredibly talented team members and volunteers I would have the privilege of working with over the years,” said Elder. “Nor could I imagine the depth of courage and determination demonstrated over and over again by so many of the clients who have come through our doors on their journey to greater independence. It has been extraordinarily rewarding to be part of such purposeful work.”

During Elder’s tenure, Goodwill was recognized as the Charlotte Regional Partnership’s Jerry Awards private organization recipient in 2015, and as one of the “Best Places to Work” by the Charlotte Business Journal in 2010. Elder was honored with a Diversity in Business Award as a “catalyst for change” by the Charlotte Business Journal in 2006. He is a past chair of the Goodwill Industries International Board of Directors – a network of 163 independent, local Goodwill organizations in the United States and Canada. During his 42-year career with Goodwill, Elder has been honored with Goodwill Industries International’s prestigious Kenneth K. King Award that recognizes executive excellence, the P.J. Trevethan Award for outstanding staff training and development programing, and in 2006, he received the J.D. Robins Jr. Distinguished Career Award. Also in 2006, Elder was the recipient of Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont’s Jack Callaghan Cornerstone Award, recognizing an individual’s lifetime commitment to the value of work and leadership in assisting and advocating for persons with employment barriers.

Elder has served on many local boards and advisory committees, including as a past chair of the United Way of Central Carolinas’ Council of Agency Executives, past president of the Freedom Drive Development Association (now known as FreeMoreWest), and member of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Workforce Development Board and the Charlotte Rotary Club. On the state level, he is a past officer of the N.C. Association of Rehabilitation Facilities and a past appointed member of the N.C. Governor’s Advocacy Council for Persons with Disabilities.

Elder will serve in a limited consulting role as President Emeritus through October 2018, and will be available to the new leader for special projects and counsel as needed. For more information about Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont, please visit

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About Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont

Goodwill has been serving individuals and families in the Southern Piedmont region of North and South Carolina for more than 50 years. Goodwill operates 24 retail stores and has more than 30 donation sites in the region. Proceeds from the sale of donated goods fund job training and employment services for individuals facing barriers to employment such as lack of skills, experience or education, and those with criminal backgrounds. In 2015, Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont provided employment services to 12,000 individuals and placed 1,500 job seekers in local jobs throughout the region thanks to donations and purchases from the community. For more information, visit | Twitter & Instagram: @GoodwillSP | LinkedIn: Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont

Media Contacts

Molly Thompson | PR & Social Media Manager | Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont | Phone: (704) 332-0262 | Email:

Melinda Wilshire | Director, Marketing & Communications | Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont | Phone: (704) 916-1616 | Email:

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